I Believe in Santa review – a nonsensical story, bad acting, and it looks like the cheap production it is

December 14, 2022 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
Lori C. 23
Film Reviews, Netflix, Streaming Service


Considering it’s the third in a line of conveyor belt-style Christmas movies by the same filmmakers, I’m not surprised at how little thought they put into it. 

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Considering it’s the third in a line of conveyor belt-style Christmas movies by the same filmmakers, I’m not surprised at how little thought they put into it. 

We review the Netflix film I Believe in Santa, which does not contain spoilers.

I Believe in Santa is the newest holiday movie to drop on Netflix this season. Along with A Hollywood Christmas and A Christmas Mystery, this is the third 2022 holiday movie from writer-director duo John Ducey and Alex Ranarivelo to hit a streaming platform, the first two having landed on HBO Max earlier this year. The duo’s ability to make and release three subpar Christmas movies in one year is quite impressive. 

The film’s premise is simplistic. Lisa (Christina Moore) is a single mom to Ella (Violet McGraw) who meets lawyer Tom (Ducey) at a 4th of July celebration. The two start dating, and everything is great for the first few months. Each protagonist has one friend and one friend only, Rachel (Lateefah Holder) and Assan (Sachin Bhatt). When Lisa learns how obsessed Tom is with Christmas, she becomes a bit apprehensive about continuing the relationship. But she soon relents and tries to understand her boyfriend’s love of the holiday. Things get even more complicated when Tom reveals he genuinely believes Santa Claus to be real. Can Tom and Lisa’s romance survive despite their different belief system? 

The story is nonsensical, and potential plot points are introduced and dropped without explanation. For example, the film starts with Lisa publishing an article she wrote praising Independence Day. In it, she describes the 4th of July holiday as “better than Christmas.” We then cut to Tom reading the article and wholeheartedly disagreeing. That’s never brought up again. Instead, the leads have their meet-cute at a 4th of July family fair when Tom “rescues” Lisa’s daughter after she got separated from her dance group.

Despite Tom’s insistence that Christmas is the most magical time of the year, there’s no magic in I Believe in Santa. Firstly, the acting is atrociously robotic, almost as if the cast is sarcastically repeating the lines someone is feeding them through earpieces. There’s zero chemistry between the leads and frankly, Tom comes across as more creepy than an endearing Christmas-loving man. A 40-something single guy who lives with a roommate is so obsessed with the holiday that he goes overboard yearly. Why? Where is his family? Does he have any other friends? Why does he believe in Santa with such conviction? It makes no sense and the movie doesn’t even try to explain it.

Lisa’s no better either  – the woman screams in Ubers (yes, screams within inches of the innocent driver’s ears for no good reason), and her disgust at the holiday is as exaggerated as Tom’s excitement. And the two best friends, Assan and Rachel, exist solely to provide support to our leads. Actually, they fit the prime definition of token people of color. And as a bonus, Assan is also the token gay Muslim character. And, of course, Tom happens to be the only person on the planet who accepts Assan for who he truly is. 

I Believe in Santa is riddled with a nonsensical story, bad acting, and it looks like the cheap and rushed production it is. Considering it’s the third in a line of conveyor belt-style Christmas movies by the same filmmakers, I’m not surprised at how little thought they put into it. 

What did you think of the Netflix film I Believe in Santa? Comment below.

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23 thoughts on “I Believe in Santa review – a nonsensical story, bad acting, and it looks like the cheap production it is

  • December 14, 2022 at 5:54 pm

    I don’t understand, such a mean, review. I saw this film last night at it’s premier and it was lovely, heartwarming an exactly what it is meant to be…a film that touches one’s heart. ” I Believe in Santa,” is a movie that is more than just Santa and whether you do or do not believe in him. It is a movie that makes you think about what you actually believe in. I have been sober for more than 17 years and this film, reminded me of my God, and my faith. Made me miss my parents and love my marriage. At the end I was moved and touched and inspired. It is so much more than checking boxes. It is a movie that makes you think and most of all, ask, “What do I believe in?” I am saddened that reviews like this are allowed. This production company, just wants to entertain. Period. I am not going to let this horrible and totally incorrect opinion of this charming movie have me feel anything different. They are not saving lives here, they are just touching your heart! Grab some cocoa, a few cookies and snuggle under a blanket and fall in love with love one more time and watch, I believe in Santa!

  • December 14, 2022 at 7:44 pm

    I agree with this review! How do you spell BAD!
    I’d rather watch paint dry

  • December 14, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    You probably don’t think there’s a spark because they’re married in real life and have been for 14 years ?. They appear as a more realistic couple

  • December 15, 2022 at 11:16 am

    I mean the guys in this film are totally queer for eachother fantastically amazing! I loved that tom ducey looks like hes actually into the elf. So maybe thats the bad acting. Either way its super sweet and pulled my hallmark heart strings! Did not seem low budget to me It was exactly what the message was so i believe in santa 😉 !!!

  • December 15, 2022 at 10:09 pm

    You do realise the main pair – Lisa & Tom are married in real life. I’d have sacked her if she acted like that. Christmas is everything. And of course santa is real!

  • December 15, 2022 at 11:06 pm

    I thought the twist was going to be that Tom comes to the realization that he is gay. The only physical chemistry he had was with Assan. Amazed to find out John Ducey is married…to a female, who happens to be his co-star!! Each time he kissed Lisa (his real life wife) it looked so awkward…. I just wanted him to kiss Assan – it would have been so much more believable.

  • December 16, 2022 at 1:41 am

    Movie is absolutely dreadful. I watched it tonight. Every year I plow through tons of Hallmark/Lifetime type movies and most are ok, a few are great…and then this one is just so so very bad.

  • December 16, 2022 at 6:22 am

    This is the first time I have ever left a comment on any movie. I lOVE Christmas movies! This is the worst Christmas movie I have ever seen (I have seen dozens). Netflix should delete this one–bad acting, bad production, story line, etc. It truly is the worst. Please remove it from your options–save people 2 hours of their lives from watching this.

  • December 16, 2022 at 8:36 am

    This is review is crazy accurate. I just finished watching it and it was incredibly painful.

  • December 16, 2022 at 2:08 pm

    I love Christmas (made for TV) films. The cheesier the better. This is a terrible film. So flat. Acting is shocking.
    Just don’t bother watching it.

  • December 16, 2022 at 2:40 pm

    I truly enjoyed this cute, whimsical Christmas movie. Every movie has its flaws and loose ends, it’s what they’re all about. I loved the cast of people but was stunned to learn the two leads are married! The two friends should have gotten together, they were both so supportive with question.

  • December 16, 2022 at 6:21 pm

    The woman lead made the same wide eyed stare face the entire movie. I wanted to scream. I hate to be this person- but the male leads plastic surgery was the only thing I could pay attention to.

  • December 17, 2022 at 12:41 am

    I think this was refreshing and not same old same old loved seeing the spirit of Christmas portrayed in a different way 9 out of 10 ho ho ho

  • December 17, 2022 at 5:02 am

    This is a movie about religious faith and it’s transformative power. The reviewer hasn’t the foggiest idea about this. It actually has nothing to do with Christmas or Santa.

  • December 17, 2022 at 9:02 am

    This movie went over y’alls head. How they were questioning him at the restaurant was a dead give away. Replace all the santa nonsense with the name Jesus or God and you’ll see what the movie was about and the clear message it was sending.

  • December 17, 2022 at 3:06 pm

    Soooo bad, I was shocked to find out that the two leads are married in real life. I love a cheesy Christmas film but the Lisa character has zero personality and the guy is creepy. The Muslim friend and the daughter are the best actors in it.

  • December 17, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    i can’t watch this, the male lead is way too old for his role that it makes me cringe, does he really think his plastic surgery takes 30 years off him, yuk!! He is so deluded he needs help, why cast him in this, there must be plenty of other actors of a more appropriate age available?

  • December 17, 2022 at 7:57 pm

    I’m actually watching this film right now with my mum and we are really enjoying it. They are a real life couple so of course there’s chemistry, yes I do agree he comes across as creepy at times. But another feel good film, no worse than the hallmark films, that I actually love too!

  • December 18, 2022 at 1:15 am

    It was terrible. The couple has no chemistry and non of the actors are likeable..just odd and fake. Tom really seemed to have more chemistry with his roommate Assan. That would have been believable.

  • December 23, 2022 at 9:20 pm

    I found a way to finish this creepy movie : pretending it was a bad comedy… and laughing at the bad acting of the two main characters.

  • December 23, 2022 at 9:24 pm

    Are they really married?
    Well, I have bad news for you , lady… he is Queer!
    Nothing wrong with being queer, but seeing a gay guy pretending to be someone he is not… is not good on screen, not funny .. is creepy.
    Boring movie. Don’t waste your time.

  • December 23, 2022 at 9:26 pm

    BAD movie
    BAD acting
    BAD casting

    A waste of my holiday time …
    I want my two hours back !!!!!!!

  • December 25, 2022 at 3:09 am

    “I am a man!” Did anyone catch that that’s what Tom said after he proposed to Lisa? My boyfriend and I are reading these comments with absolute delight. We also were amazed at how effeminate the main character was. We were equally amazed to find out he is married to his costar in real life. It’s so hysterical that so many people wanted to see the relationship between him and Assan develop into something more. We appreciated the underlying message of excepting people who had different belief systems. We were confused by the overall gay feeling in the movie. With that said, we found the movie to be hysterical but kind of in a so bad it’s good kind of way. The child actor was by far the best and most natural actor in the movie. Cheesy Christmas movie but also confusing. Based on his exclamation of being a man after he proposes, we believe that he was questioning his gender all along, until he finally fell in love with a woman. We’re pretty sure this movie is meant to just be Clickbait. V

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